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FILM 3360: Deconstructing Disney


Instructor: Dr. Virginia Bonner
Messages: vbonner@clayton.edu 
678-466-4769 fax
Fall 2021 CRN 84324
3-0-3 credit hours
ENGL 1102 & FILM 2100 (C)
Meetings: MW 3:10-4:25pm online
Screenings: On your own via D2L streaming
Office hrs: Posted and reserved via AdvisorConnect; met by email, phone, & by appt. in Music 105 or via Teams
Web Address: http://www.virginiabonner.com

Course Objectives

This semester, we will study how selected Disney films reflect, shape, and skew American and international identities. We will no doubt enjoy watching these films that, for most of us, are wonderful childhood memories. However, we will now revisit those films with fresh eyes in order to deconstruct how Disney's appropriation and revision of traditional fairy tales renders neither its claim to "innocence" nor simple "entertainment."

We will focus primarily on how ideologies of gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, capitalism, and nation are constructed in both early and recent animated Disney films. Of course, these Disney films are cultural products; they were created within particular historical and cultural contexts. As such, we will study how their creative circumstances yielded their particular intersections of racism, sexism, classism, colonialism, and imperialism, though we will also consider how audiences can interpret these popular culture texts in ways not necessarily designed or even forethought by Disney.

Course Format

Our class will cover at least one film per week--often two. On Mondays we will focus on the week's assigned reading in an introductory lecture and discussion, and occasionally we will screen our week's second film during class. On Wednesdays, we'll discuss both the film(s) and assigned readings during class.

You will be responsible for lively class discussions on our films and readings. This means that you must have read and screened all required material before class; daily quizzes will help you keep pace with our material. There is no formal written paper required for this course, but a thorough command of the film terminology you learned in FILM 2100 is expected in all of our discussions and on your exams.

Always arrive five minutes early to class lectures, not only because we will start promptly but also because late arrivals are extremely disruptive. If you must arrive late, always use the back door to enter the room quietly and then sit quietly on the aisle; do not step over people to get to a favorite seat, since this blocks the view of the screen for others. Do not text, eat loud foods, sleep, answer cell phones, operate computers, check email, work on other projects, talk with classmates or talk back to the screen loudly, or leave the room for food or other non-emergencies during class lectures; these are a time for serious study of our film texts so you should be taking copious notes during each film viewing and class lecture to prepare for your quizzes, class discussions, and exams. You may wish to bring a penlight to classes to help you take notes in the dark. Anyone behaving disruptively during class will be asked to leave.

Film Screenings

Please note that the films are mandatory. That is, you must watch the assigned films before the Wednesday and sometimes the Monday class meeting on your own outside of class. Most of our assigned films are available for free via streaming hyperlinks posted on D2L, and some are also on DVD reserve in the CSU library. Do NOT watch films on YouTube or other poor quality, truncated versions of the films, and do not watch on a phone! These films will be the primary subject matter of our exams, so high quality screenings viewed each week are important; do not rely on having seen these films when they were first released, as a child, or even last month, since we will be approaching them from very different perspectives now than we did then. If you do not plan to watch the films on your own, you should drop the course. We will view additional excerpts from selected films during class lectures.

Required Texts (Available at the campus bookstore or online vendors or as e-books)

1.     Elizabeth Bell, Lynda Haas, and Laura Sells, eds., From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture. Indiana UP: 1995. (ISBN  978-0253209788) e-book available online via CSU Library

2.     Eleanor Byrne and Martin McQuillan, Deconstructing Disney. Pluto Press: 1999. (ISBN 0745314511) e-book available online via CSU Library

3.     Selected PDF files posted in D2L. 

Recommended Optional Texts (Available at the campus bookstore or online vendors)

1.     Brenda Ayres, The Emperor's Old Groove. Lang: 2003 (ISBN 978-0820463639)

2..    Johnson Cheu, Diversity in Disney Films: Critical Essays on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality and Disability. McFarland: 2013 (ISBN-13: 978-0786446018)

Note: If you have added this course during the schedule change period and/or were not present for the syllabus review the first day of class, you are required to meet with me the following week to review course requirements and policies.